No. 1455 25 February 2011

Life Science Entrepreneurs Meet at BioAsia 2011

BioAsia 2011 Dr Dar addresses BioAsia 2011.

Breeding by design is no longer a dream,” proclaimed Director General William
D. Dar speaking at the Eighth Annual International Biotechnology event, BioAsia 2011, held from 21 to 24 February at Hyderabad’s Hitex City. “Changing concepts and molecular approaches today provide opportunities to develop rational and refined breeding strategies to map out all agronomically important traits on the genetic map of any crop,” he further elaborated.

Dr Dar delivered the speech while chairing BioAsia’s technical session on Breeding by Design. In his address, Dr Dar said that BioAsia had always provided a platform for discussing new approaches in the field of biotechnology, integrating innovative developments and converting technologies into industrial products. He informed the gathering that ICRISAT has been associated with BioAsia since its inception in 2004 as one of its active partners.

Dr Dar emphasized that while all these modern tools of science are being used, we must take special care to ensure that the poorest benefit from these innovations. The poor must be enabled to participate, rather than being left behind. “This forms the crux of ICRISAT’s strategy to 2020 that lays emphasis on Inclusive Market-Oriented Development, so that the poor farmers can emerge from subsistence farming to market-oriented agriculture” Dr Dar stated.

“For example, it has been shown that technologies that enable competitiveness in export markets have increased poor smallholder incomes substantially. Modern tools will multiply the productivity of crops and consequently the incomes of farmers who grow them.” he continued.

The BioAsia event aims to provide a common platform to the stakeholders and business drivers of the life sciences sector to create synergies, share sustainable best practices, and chart a strategic way forward. India is among the top 12 biotech markets globally, and ranks third in the Asia-Pacific region, after Japan and Korea.

The focus of BioAsia 2011 was to facilitate enhanced cooperation among stakeholders through Conferences, International Tradeshows, B2B partnering, CEO Conclaves, Bio Parks Sessions, Bio Banquet Dinners and Awards. The event was jointly organized by the Federation of Asian Biotech Associations (FABA), the Global Bio Business Forum, Pharmexcil, Government of Andhra Pradesh, the All India Biotech Association and the University of Hyderabad.

One of the highlights of BioAsia is the presentation of awards instituted by FABA for recognizing outstanding scientists / entrepreneurs who have made significant contributions in any branch of life science for the benefit of the biotech and pharmaceutical industries.

During the BioAsia 2011 awards ceremony, Dr Dar also conferred the FABA Special Award upon Dr Roger L Williams, Chief Executive Officer, United States Pharmacopeia and Dr Davinder S Brar, Chairman, GVK Biosciences Pvt. Limited for their extraordinary contribution to the life science industry.

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IFAD-ICRISAT project launched at Patancheru

IFAD-ICRISAT Participants of the IFAD-ICRISAT project launch at Patancheru.

ICRISAT in partnership with Myanmar and Indian national agricultural research systems (NARS) launched the project titled Improving farmers livelihood and food security through enhanced legumes productivity in India and Myanmar on 21 February at Patancheru. The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)-EC Incremental Contribution to selected CGIAR programs sponsors the project.

Director General William Dar in his inaugural address emphasized the importance of legumes in improving farmers’ livelihoods and nutrition taking them from subsistence to market-oriented production. Dr Dar stressed the need to enhance the productivity of legumes to minimize poverty, hunger and malnutrition through purposeful partnerships.

Dr Dar also stressed on the relative price rise of legumes in developing countries and its implications on the poor. He expressed his optimism that the varieties and technologies preferred by farmers from the previous projects would be scaled up to be accessible to at least 50,000 farmers targeted in the project.

DDG-R Dave Hoisington chaired the inaugural session. Director, Grain Legumes CLL Gowda delivered the welcome address and introduced the participants, while Project Coordinator GV Ranga Rao presented the objectives and outlines of the project.

Session II was chaired by SN Nigam, where Indian NARS presented their crop-wise work plans, while Session III, chaired by KB Saxena, covered the presentations from Myanmar. Later, in Session IV on 22 February led by CLL Gowda, all the participants revisited their work plans and were divided into 7 groups.

To provide overall implementation guidelines, a Steering Committee has been formed comprising representatives from various organizations, which include B Kondaiah, NGO representative, RDT, Anantapur; PM Salimath, representing Indian NARS; Khin Soe, Myanmar NARS; PC Oran representing IFAD loan projects; CLL Gowda, ICRISAT; and GV Ranga Rao, Project Coordinator who will act as the Secretary.

The meeting concluded with remarks by NARS representatives and was followed by a vote of thanks by PM Gaur.

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Geostatistical Analysis of Environmental Data Course concludes

Geostatistical Analysis of Environmental Data course Participants of the Geostatistical Analysis of Environmental Data course.

A short course on the Geostatistical Analysis of Environmental Data offered by ICRISAT in association with the University of Florida (UF) concludes today, 25 February, at Patancheru. Associate Professor from the University of Florida, Dr Pierre Goovaerts, was the course instructor.

Acting Global Leader, Knowledge Sharing and Innovation (KSI) Rex Navarro inaugurated the course while the Learning Systems Unit (LSU), through Rosana Mula, fully supported and anchored the course administration. Twelve participants from ICAR institutions and universities of India including ICRISAT scientists attended the course.

Graduate Research Professor and Chair of UF, Dr K Ramesh Reddy, was also present at ICRISAT to discuss how to move the partnership further and enhance the delivery of short courses. Dr Reddy also met with Director General William Dar and KSI representatives to renew the MoU.

The primary objective of the course was to introduce participants to a package of geostatistical methods for spatial analysis of environmental data, to learn how to apply geostatistics for the description of spatial patterns and identification of scales of variability.

The participants were trained on how to import, visualize and analyze their own data in a space-time information system and discussed the spatial interpolation and stochastic modeling of environmental attributes, creation of risk maps and their use in decision-making.

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ICRISAT and ANGRAU hold sweet sorghum awareness camp

ICRISAT-ANGRAU awareness camp Participants of the ICRISAT-ANGRAU awareness camp.

ICRISAT in association with the Acharya NG Ranga Agricultural University (ANGRAU) organized an awareness camp for over 50 farmers at the Regional Agricultural Research Station (RARS), Nandyal on 13 February.

For the past three years, RARS Nandyal has been the partner for the ICRISAT-IFAD biofuels project and for conducting sweet sorghum experiments.

The primary objective of the camp was to create awareness among the farmers about the diverse uses of sweet sorghum. The camp also aimed at analyzing how sweet sorghum can be an agent of socio-economic transformation in the traditional grain sorghum belt of Andhra Pradesh. For many years, farmers in this region have been cultivating just a few varieties of grain in thousands of hectares of land, thus attracting the drawbacks of monoculture.

Dr Shankar Reddy, Associate Director of Research, RARS, Nandyal chaired the meeting and made introductory remarks on the importance of sweet sorghum, drawing parallels to grain sorghum in the changing cropping system scenarios.

Scientist, Sorghum Breeding, Srinivasa Rao delivered a lecture on the relevance of sweet sorghum for the Nandyal region. He stressed on how farmers can improve their income levels by using the sweet stalks of the crop as fodder and the grain for human consumption. He also spoke about the benefits of this novel feedstock by comparing it with other feedstocks such as corn and sugarcane, its suitability as fodder vis-à-vis other crops of the region and farmers’ experience in Nandyal.

Srinivasa Rao also highlighted the importance of well-integrated crop-livestock systems, environmental benefits of the sweet sorghum value chain, National Biofuel Policy and experiences in Brazil on the sugarcane-ethanol value chain.

Later, all the participants visited the station where sweet sorghum trials were being conducted, and expressed their satisfaction after tasting the stalks.

Farmers also came forward to take up sweet sorghum in limited areas adjacent to grain sorghum fields in the next season.

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CLL Gowda and Hari Sharma honored

CLL Gowda Dr Gowda receives a fellowship from the President of the Crop Improvement Society of India.

Director, Grain Legumes CLL Gowda and Principal Scientist Hari Sharma were conferred with the Fellowship of the Crop Improvement Society of India at the Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana during the International Conference on Preparing Agriculture for Climate Change, held from 6 to 8 February.

HC Sharma General Secretary of the Crop Improvement Society of India honors Dr Sharma with a fellowship

Both Gowda and Sharma were among the 15 invited plenary speakers at the Conference. Gowda presented a joint paper authored by Director General Dar and himself on the Climate change: Reduced productivity and food security, and Hari Sharma delivered a lecture on Climate Change: implications for arthropod diversity, pest management and food security. They also acted as judges for evaluating posters.

Hari Sharma also participated in the Panel Discussion on Preparing Agriculture for Climate Change, which deliberated on the issues related to climate change, soil health, germplasm, nutritional quality, improving crops for climate change, and climate change effects on pests and pest management.


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Team ICRISAT calls on AP Agriculture Minister

Sri YS Vivekananda Reddy Hon’ble Minister receives the memento from CLL Gowda. Also seen in the picture are Belum Reddy; Dr Raghava Reddy, VC, ANGRAU; and Mr Lenin PS to minister.

Director, Grain Legumes CLL Gowda, Belum VS Reddy and Ch Ravinder Reddy met with the Honorable Agriculture Minister for Andhra Pradesh, Sri YS Vivekananda Reddy at his office in Hyderabad on 18 February. The minister was presented with a memento and a shawl on behalf of Director General William Dar (the memento was to be presented last Annual Day, but it did not happen as the minister had to leave early on some emergency).

During the meeting, Team ICRISAT discussed the possible technical collaboration that was requested by the minister during his discussion with Dr Dar on 7 December 2010, and gave him a draft proposal on Increasing Agricultural Productivity and Incomes through Bridging Yield gaps with Science-led Interventions in Andhra Pradesh.

Sri Vivekananda Reddy extended his thanks to Dr Dar and assured that his office would respond very soon to ICRISAT’s proposal, which seeks help for enhancing productivity in the drylands of Andhra Pradesh.

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Warm sendoff to Isaac Minde and Alain Ratnadass

Isaac Minde Isaac Minde shares his thoughts at his farewell

ICRISAT-Bulawayo bade farewell to Isaac Minde on 14 February. Isaac served as Country Representative for 4 out of his 5 years with the Institute steering the location with care and wisdom through various challenges resulting from collapse of the Zimbabwean economy.

Moses Siambi, Country Representative of Malawi who attended the farewell, said, “On behalf of the region as well as other colleagues at ICRISAT, I would like to say that we will miss your expertise and your ability to work with different people and organizations in ESA”.

In his farewell address, Isaac said that he would start and end his speech with thanks and said, “Thank you for making my life in Zimbabwe for the last 5+ years so successful and peaceful, contributing to my growth and personal development. With your help, we were able to sail through even those times, which were very difficult. ICRISAT is a great organization to work for. It provides real opportunities for growth in research”.

Alain Ratnadass Alain Ratnadass poses with a memento.

ICRISAT-Bulawayo also welcomed Dr André van Rooyen as the new Country Representative.

Dr Minde has accepted a post as Professor of International Development at Michigan State University where he will work on capacity building in modernizing food systems in Africa.

In another sendoff ceremony, Mali bade farewell to Alain Ratnadass. Dr Ratnadass had joined ICRISAT-Mali in 1989 and worked as an entomologist on sorghum for 11 years. During this period, he also ensured for three years the overall coordination of Team CIRAD at ICRISAT in Mali and the European project Integrated Pest Management on Sorghum for four years.

Dr Ratnadass returned to the Sahelian Center in 2008 where he served as a researcher in integrated crop protection against pests. His work has been conducted in close collaboration with Team ICRISAT and its partners at Sadoré, and with the National Institute for Agronomic Research (INRAN) and the University of Niamey.

At the farewell ceremony, Deputy Regional Director Jupiter Ndjeunga valued his great contribution towards achieving objectives of the institute. Dr Ratnadass was also appreciated by his colleagues for showing calmness and efficiency while making decisions. Alain will be leaving Sadoré to join Centre de coopération internationale en recherche agronomique pour le développement (CIRAD) in Montpellier.

Director General William Dar honored Isaac Minde and Alain Ratnadass on behalf of the Institute when they were at Patancheru earlier this year to attend the Global Annual Research Meeting.

Team ICRISAT wishes both Isaac and Alain good luck in their future endeavors.

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